Sunday, August 9, 2009

Maple Syrup and Garlic....where's the link????

.....The Farmers' Market, of course!

This summer has been uncharacteristically miserable - weather-wise, at least. Many days it has poured with rain continually and I'd begin to believe that a) I'd been magically spirited back to England, that (in)famously drizzly isle, and b) that I'd better evolve some webbed feet. PDQ....!!!

Yesterday, however, the day started out beautiful and doggedly remained that way and so, to celebrate, My Beloved and I hot-footed it up to the Farmers' Market in Northampton. It's a pretty low-key affair, with only a handful of stalls, and a preponderence of plantable plants....bedding plants, annuals, that kind of thing.

However, there are also at least two or three extremely well provisioned vegetable stalls with a truly impressive array of greens - kale of every kind, mustard greens, collard greens, you name it, they have it - root vegetables, enormous bunches of fresh herbs, and some fruits. Since we are still experimenting with growing our own kale, I restricted myself to getting some fingerling potatoes (delicious simply boiled and tossed with thinly-sliced garlic sauteed in olive oil), heirloom tomatoes, baby eggplants (just 2 inches in length - perfect for grilling lightly and popping into your mouth!), white eggplants, corn, a bunch of radishes the size of small plums, and some summer squash. It's all somewhat cheaper than the grocery store and I love that the money is going direct to the grower, the farmer. One of the stalls was offering only shallots and different types of fresh garlic:

Show me the grocery store where you'd find this kind of choice of garlic bulb!!!! We bought a handful of different kinds and I'm planning to roast them with a little olive oil and then use in soups, breads, or as pizza toppings.

The other specialty stall belonged to the maple syrup guy. We've bought from him before and the syrup is wonderful, ranging from a very light amber to a deep golden color. I love to use the former on crepes and french toast and the latter in baking - especially as I want to use more of these natural sweeteners and (ultimately) leave refined white sugar behind.

The whole market is basically just one small side street of the town that they close off to traffic for the morning, but it was heaving with shoppers. Perhaps the sun brought them out or perhaps it's just the nature of Northampton. There were folks with strollers, young tattooed couples, one young woman proudly sporting a Vegan Radio t-shirt, spry seniors, bicyclists, people with their dogs. It's very much a mixed bag. One couple, I noticed, had a very unusual dog - an American Hairless Terrier. I didn't manage to get a picture - to be honest I was kind of embarassed to ask - but, while talking with the man, I learned that they had bought her on the internet. From a breeder. I could barely stop myself from rolling my eyes and sighing - it's not like we don't have dogs galore here in shelters and pounds who need a home!!!!!! But no, these guys had the dog driven up from heaven knows where. And it struck me that this hairless dog is really going to enjoy the New England winters, oh yes indeedy! Hmmmmm.....

One of the few stalls that I avoid - for obvious reasons - is the farm-raised, free-range, happy-beef stall. Usually, I try to walk directly past it and just not look. I find it altogether too sad. And it struck me yesterday how different the vibe was coming from that particular stall...see what I mean?

The canopy seemed a ridiculous contrast to the butchered bodies in the altogether pathetic coolers. And the owner was not exactly doing a brisk trade, I am glad to say. I clung tightly to my Vegan Outreach bag as I walked by and tried not to think too much about it all. 

As we were leaving - the 'happy beef' stall having totally killed my earlier good mood - the fates intervened and presented me with the following sight:

It's hard not to feel better when you look at them isn't it!

Do you have a farmer's market where you are? And if so, what do you like best about it?

Stay Vegan Friends!

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